By Sola Ogundipe
Nigerians from all walks of life have been urged to enlist as voluntary blood donors in support of the drive for blood safety and sufficiency in he country. Minister of Health, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin who made the plea in Abuja Last week said the move would avert the higher risk of transmission of infections from blood and blood products obtained from paid donors.
Speaking during this yearâ€™s World Blood Donor Day, he said a strategy for ensuring safety, quality and availability of adequate blood supplies is through collection of blood from voluntary non-remunerated donors only.
â€œEvidence from around the world demonstrates that patients who receive blood from voluntary non-remunerated donors who give blood regularly, are at the lowest risk of acquiring blood-borne infections through transfusion, because these donors are motivated by altruism and have no reason to conceal any reasons why their blood may be unsafe.â€
Osotimehin , while noting that there are currently 12 operational National Blood Transfusion Centers spread over the six geo-political zones of Nigeria, anticipated that by the end of 2009, five additional centers would have been established.
The NBTS, he said, is committed to establishing one National Blood Center in each of the 36 states by 2015, in the hope that the states will pick up the challenges and ensure that modalities are put in place to make safe blood accessible to all communities within their catchment areas.
â€œAs the demand for blood keeps increasing, and Nigeria strives to make blood readily available, I call on you all special people gathered here today to enlist as voluntary blood donors in support for community participation. Regular donation of blood-three times per year for women, and four for men- will help us maintain a stable pool-three times per year for women, and four for men-will help us maintain a stable pool of safe blood units, and expand our blood component programme to achieve self-sufficiency.â€
Every year since 2004, the 14th of June has been set aside by the World Health Assembly to recognize and thank those who donate blood for altruistic reasons. This date has been chosen in honour of Karl Landsteiner who discovered the ABO blood groups in 1907.